A judge is facing criticism for giving what some say was a too-lenient sentence to Nolan Bruder, a California man who was convicted of drugging and then raping his teenage sister after she was so impaired she no longer realized he was her brother.
When sentencing Bruder, 20, of Crescent City, California, Judge William H. Follett noted “that the victim in this case took her own clothes off and was not unconscious,” reported the Crescent City Times.
The crime led a prosecutor to draw comparisons between the Bruder rape case and the infamous Brock Turner case. Turner was the Stanford University swimmer who served only three months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman who was unconscious.
In both cases, the judges gave the defendants less time than the prosecutors wanted; and, in both cases, some are arguing that the men received the advantage of “white privilege.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bruder Is Accused of Giving His Own Sister ‘Dabs’ of Marijuana & Then Raping Her
When Bruder’s sister wouldn’t have sex with him, he gave her potent drugs in order to take advantage of her, prosecutors argued.
According to KRC-TV, Bruder pleaded guilty to the accusations that he “gave his 16-year-old sister high potency marijuana also known as ‘dabs’ to smoke after she repeatedly resisted his sexual advances, until she reached the point of no longer recognizing him as her brother.”
He was convicted of rape of an intoxicated person, The Crescent City Times reports.
2. The Judge Gave Bruder Probation & 240 Days in Jail With a Suspended Sentence
According to The Crescent City Times, Bruder was sentenced May 17 by Judge Follett to serve “three years, with all but 240 days (at half time in county jail) suspended in favor of a grant of probation for Rape of an Intoxicated Person.”
The newspaper added that, the prosecutor, the Deputy DA, Annamarie Padilla, had asked the judge to “follow the Probation Department’s recommendation to send Bruder to state prison for six years.”
The judge “believed that the ‘stigma’ of this conviction along with mandatory sex offender registration requirements would sufficiently deter this Defendant and others in the community,” reported the newspaper.
Judge Follett is the presiding judge in Del Norte County, California.
In a previous statement of candidacy, the judge said, “I’ve strive to ensure that people appearing in court are treated fairly and with dignity. Although we have only two judges, our heavy caseload justifies more than three judges under state standards. I’ve tried to balance the need to process hundreds of cases weekly with the patience needed to listen and be fair.”
The judge stressed that the courthouse had helped “families in crisis” by establishing drug courts and hiring a full-time mediator. The judge added that he had “implemented strict drug testing to force abstinence as a condition to continuing treatment and avoiding jail.”
3. The District Attorney Vehemently Disagreed With the Sentence
The lead prosecutor in the case was upset with the sentence.
The Del Norte District Attorney, Dale P. Trigg told KRC-TV that he “could not disagree more with” it.
The prosecutor added, “The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence. That is not the message I want to send to our community.”
It’s not the first time that Judge Follett has gone lighter than the prosecution in a sex-related case. In a prior case, according to KIEM-TV, a “former Del Norte High School coach found guilty on multiple counts of an inappropriate relationship with a minor” but received “a lighter than recommended sentence” from the judge.
The DA and probation department wanted five years but the judge gave the defendant, Joseph Young, “3-years of probation with only 1-year in jail. Young will be eligible for release in less than 6-months,” the television station reported. In that case, said KIEM-TV, the judge cited the “willingness of the victim in the relationship,” even though the prosecutor pointed out that juveniles can’t legally consent.
4. The Bruder Case Has Draw Comparisons to the Brock Turner Rape Case
The D.A. himself raised a direct comparison to the Turner case.
“In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner,” Trigg told KRC-TV. “This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim’s big brother. He knew she didn’t want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn’t even recognize him in order get what he wanted.”
After the Turner controversy, the law was changed to deny probation in such cases, but Bruder’s case predated the law change, so he was not affected by it legally, according to The Crescent City Times.
5. Bruder Filled His Facebook Page With Eeerie Poems & Graphics
“I see demon in those eyes,” one friend wrote under a Facebook picture of Bruder, to which he replied, “Perhaps.”
He filled his page with poems. In October, he wrote, “We are all creatures inside, humanity meant nothing at all until it was spoken, there for by their written rules we must abide, we do not live in a world un-broken, and if our own perception of this life means nothing, is there any traces of the animals we are, left inside us? Or are we all just after the same something, so let not the world tell you who you are,
And maybe you too can reach your star.”
He started another poem, “Cut my throat and leave me for dead, the ghosts inside me are what all dread.” He posted pictures of skulls and people’s heads blowing up. Another poem began, “Hehe the devil whispers his words onto my lips. And I curse the people who talk sh*t from the safety of their home ship.”
The devil is a recurring theme in his posts. Others said,”Devils behind my eyes. Feeling my thoughts sorting my lies” and “Satan come and spin with me
Devils teach me how to sin with thee.”
His Facebook page says he worked at a Christian boarding high school, and lived and was from Crescent City, California. People have now filled the Facebook page with angry comments because of the case.